I was always being fascinated by the bodies of water. Beaches, rivers, lakes and ponds. Even a simple puddle catches my interest.
But here in Saudi, it’s very rare. Not unless you are in coastal provinces like Jeddah, Jubail, Khobar, Rastanura and Qatif. Riyadh, where I work is in the middle of the desert. I was surprised when I discovered on Google Earth that Riyadh has a river. Just a few kilometers from the city center, there is a stream called “Wadi Hanifah”. I need to see this, I told myself.
One weekend (Friday is the weekend here), I decided to pursue my curiosity. I took a taxi and asked if he knows Wadi Hanifa. You will not be surprised if all the taxi drivers here always said “Yes” but don’t assume that they really know the place. I made a sketch to guide him the route.
When I was there, I couldn’t believe that Riyadh really has a river (with water of course) because there’s a lot that looks like a river but are dried. But this one, the current was strong and the water is clear. You could even see tilapias in the water. Yes, I’m sure those are tilapia. But the overwhelming joy inside me was mixed with worries. That place is a park and a lot of people having their weekend picnic. Photography at public places here in Saudi is still risky. There are also mobile car of the park keeper trailing along the river from time to time. I walked at the far end of the park hoping to have a spot without arabs. I’ve had already sat up my tripod and beginning to compose when I’ve heard a fat saudi yelling at me. He is with his wife (covered with black cloth). Since they are some meters away from me, I just made a sign language telling him I am only shooting the river. And then I saw his angry face, and the motion of his hands telling me to move away. Haiissst…
I walked back into the middle of the park. I decided to better have a quick snap rather than try for a long exposure. In the end, it was another memorable experience here in KSA.